Degelo Desenho 1989-2021 by Inez Teixeira at the Carmona e Costa Foundation

A delicate graphite drawing by Inez Teixeira, untitled, from 2000, presents the image of a female face lying down. It seems to rise as if the soul were detached from the body. It reminds one of the mannerisms of early or late Romanticism. The vacant, half-closed eyes, and the lifeless mouth, all recall Millais’ earlier work or Ophelia’s figure, submerged in the mud of the river Hogsmill in Ewell, surrounded by daisies, buttercups and nettles.

As in Millais’ work, we do not know whether the figure drawn by Teixeira is asleep or whether her soul has left the body.

The soft line of the female figure’s face, drawn by the artist, also recalls the languid body of a young Roman girl, painted somewhere in a painting by Delaroche, and immersed in the Tiber. Or a work by Fuseli, The Nightmare, where a figure, reminiscent of demonic beings, haunts the bed of a young woman to steal her soul. Further up is another drawing by Teixeira, whose figure has a huge open mouth and a tongue full of thorns. It seems to point to these beings of darkness, who enter dreams to capture the lives of young women while they sleep.

When I saw this small group of drawings, I associated Teixeira’s work with the grotesque beings of this period and, above all, with the web that the artist seems to create and interweave, bringing together time and thought in a composite of Art History styles and periods. It made me enter history not chronologically, but as if it were an archive, fruit of the connections among the different works. There are several Shakespeare’s Ophelias and sacrifices of young girls to the gods in Art History, so is this rising head another of those martyrs?

My musings, stuck in romanticism, now find the Degelo series also by this artist. The first feeling is an uneasy emptiness, as if something has been torn from the painting. Light spots repeat sequentially, haloed by different shades of blue or crimson. We search for what has been removed or suppressed. Meanwhile, my fantasy hovers over William Blake, especially for The Ancient of Days, and the male figure that comes vividly out of that hole of light to perplex or unsettle us. A poem by Blake comes up in my derivatives: “I wander thro’ each charter’d street, (…) And mark in every face I meet/Marks of weakness, marks of woe.”

But it would be simplistic to summarise the artist’s drawings only to this time gap. They are readings based on personal references. Drawing is relationship, transformation, and transition. Each of the artist’s drawings presupposes an opening to something else or another creative path. A drawing that, although organic and abstract in its suggestion, shows conceptual potential, with simulacra, superpositions, and transparencies. In the same space coexist drawings that nurture other fields and interpretations. In an interview, the artist admitted that she would like her drawings to have multiple readings.

The drawings of the Chama series, 2014, recall this interpretative threshold, this place with dubious readings. Are they knotted tree trunks or deteriorating bone fragments? Are they landscapes or observations of a microscopic organism through a magnifying glass? Teixeira’s drawings are structures that change, that acquire other identities, that enable other ways of seeing and thinking, elusive, unspeakable, beyond rational thought. The drawing sheet is the shelter for artistic creativity, at times random and at times meaningless. It walks towards knowledge that is not bound to a narrow interpretation. On the contrary, it provides several readings. A place of variety and diversity.

The works in the Carmona e Costa Foundation gallery seem to take us to a feeling of degeneration of matter. An inexorable end, materialized by the fluid Landscape series, in acrylic on paper. In this series, I cannot dissociate it from the title Degelo, which is the exhibition’s name. Once again, I think of the obscurantist, sublime romanticism of the work O Mar Polar by the German painter Caspar Friedrich.

The exhibition Degelo Desenho 1989-2021, curated by Nuno Faria, is at the Carmona e Costa Foundation until May 21.

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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